Sorry I Missed Our Anniversary, Dear

The one-year anniversary of Revel + Gardener came and went with me mostly sick in bed.  It also came and went with me nursing that cold with a bowl of hearty chicken soup and rosemary buttermilk bread. And I didn’t even give you the recipe.  Sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to be cheap or forgetful.  The chicken soup was so basic as to not warrant a recipe.  Suffice it to say, it is a one-pot wonder that starts with oil & butter and lots of onion and garlic, and takes the better part of the morning.  Throw in left-over brown rice, handfuls of parsnips, carrots, celery, tons of spices and a sprinkle or three of cayenne, and you’re good to go.  As for the buttermilk bread, it’s one that I make when I’m too lazy to sourdough it, and it’s usually some quick reminder recipe (the kind you find online to give you just the basic proportions and you make it your own from there).

My basic recipe came from Thekitchn.com, and goes something like this:

2 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar (scant)

1.5 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. kosher salt

2 T. dried whole rosemary*

1 c. buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 c. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Prepare a bread pan but greasing it and lightly dusting with flour.

Whisk the dry ingredients together, including the rosemary.

*The rosemary I use for this comes from Kauffman’s Country Store in Beloit, Wisconsin.  My mother surprises me with occasional gift packages stuffed with lots of treasures from there, or packs it in her carry-on bag when she comes to visit.  I was hoping when I went to search for the link just now that maybe they delivered but it doesn’t look like it.  The blue box on their website that says “Shop Here for All of Your BAKING Needs,” means literally shop here, as in Kauffman’s Country Store on Hwy. 81 in Beloit, not as in click-n-shop here on this blue box that looks like it should link to an online shopping experience.  But, I digress.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and olive oil.  When that’s well whisked, pour the wet over the dry and stir together till you have a moist, sticky batter.  Be gentle with the stirring.  You want them to meet, not mate.

Pour the batter into the prepped pan.  Pop it in the oven.  Pull it out 45 minutes, give or take a few, later, when a toothpick comes out clean.  Let it sit on a cooling rack for about ten minutes, then enjoy it with a pat or two of butter.

This bread is very excellent warm.  It makes for tasty toast, too, but is prone to crumble.  You’ll be okay, so long as you’re prepared.  Always remember to unplug the toaster before going in search of stragglers.

So, I may have missed the one-year mark since I started this blog, but that’s okay.  There will be more. (Mayans be damned).

Mina Mina Semolina

At the well-timed advice of a fellow reveler, I endeavored to work in a little semolina, a flour often reserved for pasta. I loosely followed a recipe I found on cookistry.blogspot.com (semolina-flax-honey bread) but I used a warmed milk and honey wash about five minutes before the bread was done baking to get a slightly darker crust.

Semolina is made from durum wheat, and is said to lighten otherwise heavy (usually as with whole grain) breads. It’s mighty tasty in this loaf, and I’m sure I will rendezvous with it again soon.

UPDATE: for the first time, I’ve posted a recipe online (down there, below the picture).  Hope you enjoy!  Feedback invited (nay, begged for).  Although I have a whole host of helpful cookbooks I frequently refer to, more and more I find myself borrowing from several reliable sites online.  For that reason, it’s important to me to have a recipe that’s clear, accurate, and gives proper due.  Let me know if you try this recipe (or some version thereof), and if this can be tweaked/improved at all.

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Here was my version of this great recipe from Cookistry.com (bounteous site for various bread recipes and bread making techniques).  My changes were largely due to simply running out of time since I was baking in between life, and other things.

Dry Ingredients
2 cups bread flour
slightly less than 1 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant (quick rise) yeast
2 tablespoons ground flax

Wet Ingredients
2 tablespoons honey 2 (the original recipe calls for crystals – the liquid honey did fine for my purposes)
1 tablespoon olive oil + enough to coat a bag for the dough to rise
1 cup cold water (spring water, if you have it)

The Washes and Toppings
Egg wash (one whole egg and one tablespoon cold water)
Flax seeds, for topping (I used blonde – cookistry.com has a photo with one-half light, the other dark)
Milk wash (milk, honey, olive oil)

1. The Dough

Set aside the egg wash and flax seeds.  Put all the other ingredients except the water together in a food processor.  With your food processor on, pour the cold water in as fast as the other ingredients will absorb it.  Keep the food processor going until it forms a ball and then about another half-minute after that.

Take your dough ball out, and briefly knead it on a clean, floured surface (it always matters to knead your own dough, even if it’s just long enough to give it that human touch).  Form it back into a ball.

2.  The Rise

Oil the bag and put your dough ball in it, turning it to coat before putting it in cold storage overnight.

After the requisite twelve hours (mine turned out to be closer to 20), take the bag out and let it sit until it comes to room temperature.  (This should only take a couple hours — because of intermittent tasks, mine rested for closer to four hours).

3.  The Score and Wash

Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal, and set the oven to 350 degrees.  Knead the dough briefly on a clean, floured surface and form it into the desired shape.  Place it on the baking sheet, cover it lightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled, about another 40 minutes (yes, for me this was closer to an hour).

To score your bread, take a sharp, thin kitchen knife, and make any desired slashes.  The pros use a lame.  I don’t have one of those and my scoring is satisfactory for me.  Sharp small serrated knives, or even razor blades, will do the trick to score the bread so that you have created a tear in the bread and the heat of the oven doesn’t just pick the weakest point and tear there.  Cookistry didn’t call for this but I nearly always score mine.  Hearth breads like this one, baked on a sheet, not in a bread pan, call for scoring but it’s typically not necessary for bread pans.  I do it anyone, sheet or pan, because I like the way it looks, it gives the crust peaks and valleys (not quite for mouthfeel but more for mouth experience).

For the egg wash, with a fork, briskly stir together one egg and one tablespoon cold water.  Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash all over the bread, trying not to let any of it drip/run down the sides or pool in the scored indentations.

Generously sprinkle light flax seeds all over the tops and sides.

4.  The Bake

Pop it in the oven.

For the milk wash, which gets applied 5-10 minutes before your bread is done (closer to ten minutes if you want a darker crust since the sugars in the milk and honey darken the crust)After about 30-35 minutes, apply the milk wash, which is just a little bit of milk (approx. 1/4 cup) with a touch of honey (I heat these together in the microwave).  Then drizzle a little olive oil on top.  Give it a quick stir, then use the pastry brush to apply it, keeping in mind that you will get a bit of browning if the milk wash meets the bread at the bottom of the pan.  The little bit of crunch that results from this can be a pleasant surprise (but of course if left in the oven too long, it’s called burnt).  Experiment a little, and see what you like.  When your loaf is done, let it cool on a rack.

5.  The Eat

I especially like this bread toasted but keep that in mind when you’re shaping it or it may not be toaster friendly.  Lovely warm or just plain as a breakfast treat with a touch of butter.  The crust has a subtly sweet flavor, nicely accentuated by the nuttiness of the flax seeds.

Enjoy!